Anti Virus Companies Profit in Ugly PUP Game

Anti Virus Companies Profit in Ugly PUP Game

As a follow up to the recent How To Geek post documenting the crapware filled download sites – research by Emisoft shows that a shocking number of Anti Virus products are generating millions in revenue through PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs).

Unfortunately, the issue of PUPs, foistware and crapware is in no way a new issue – as our good friend Bill Pytlovany documented back in 2008.

Note: PC Pitstop takes great in pride in having never included PUPs with any of our products.

Ethics in the software industry seem to be lost completely when even antivirus vendors bundle PUPs with their software…

Fact: 7 out of 8 tested free antivirus suites bundle with PUPs

We decided to further look into this and do the same test with other free, full antivirus suites, and the results are pretty shocking:

All tested free Antivirus programs come with toolbars or PUPs of some sort – except Bitdefender Free. A lot of them have a “rebranded” Ask toolbar that generates considerable pay per install (PPI) revenues while they’re labeled as part of the vendors own security solution. Some disclose they use Ask (for example Avira), others like AVG go as far as adding pops with coupon deals.

Antivirus programs are supposed to protect your computer from viruses, yet many of them give you a questionable program during installation, without clear disclosure.

– See more at:

Below is the list of 8 free antivirus programs and the type of PUPs they give you during installation at the time of posting. Please note that we only included full antivirus suites, not scanner-only products.

Bitdefender Free: as mentioned before, Bitdefender Free is one of the only clean antivirus vendors that does not come with any PUPs.

Comodo AV Free: changes home page and search engine provider to Yahoo during the installation process, unless the user unchecks the box.

Avast Free: offers Dropbox during installation by default, unless you uncheck the box. No toolbars are installed.

Panda AV free: installs Panda Security toolbar, yahoo search takeover and MyStart (powered by Yahoo) home page takeover. No product rebrands, at least the installer is clear that both are Yahoo products.

AdAware free: installs WebCompanion by default unless user unchecks the box. Also installs Bing Homepage takeover and Bing search takeover by default, unless opted out. Discloses that AdAware offers these programs to keep the software free.

Avira free: offers Dropbox after installation. Takes over search with Avira Safe Search, which is a a white-labeled version of the Ask toolbar. Avira does disclose that it partners with Ask, and states that it “chose to be our partner in bringing you the SearchFree Toolbar because is one of many vendors whose products offer functionality which we believe our users will value”.

ZoneAlarm free AV + Firewall: with Custom Install: Zonealarm homepage and search takeover.This is a rebranded Ask toolbar, which is not mentioned on ZoneAlarm’s website.

AVG free: installs Web Tuneup, including AVG SafeGuard. Sets AVG Secure Search as homepage, new tab page and defaults search engine. Toolbar is Ask powered, although this is not explicitly stated. Also offers AVG Rewards, which displays popup advertisements with coupons and deals.

– See more at:

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25 thoughts on “Anti Virus Companies Profit in Ugly PUP Game

  1. What I recommend when installing an executable from a trusted source, is to do custom installation. If you just do the automatic installation, you do not know if there are other programs that are being installed. I'm beginning to see reputable sites doing this "bundling" in order to keep the software free.

  2. Face it. A company can’t exist without getting some type of revenue. Giving away an anti-virus program but cleverly trying to disguise adware that gives them a few bucks is an expected ruse. I use Kaspersky and pay for it. Why do people try to get free software but pay $4 for a stupid cup of coffee or a $1-2 for a bottle of water? Penny wise and dollar foolish.

  3. This surprises me in a world where hard work is no longer the only way to the top. It must be mixed with dishonesty, manipulation, cheating and flat out being a dick/bitch. U have to essentially pay tens of thousands of dollars’ to get a $12 an hour job. Lol. Human beings are so fucked. Keep going to church u fucks.

  4. So true, and not only true of Free Anti Viruses but many others as well. PitStop has been of great service to me in correcting these issues also.

  5. I heard rumors a few years ago that it IS the anti- Virus companies that are making the virus's so people will buy their products.

  6. AVG sucks, had them for years. Had a major crash. Added all kinds of unwanted app and other things. Never herd from them until I switch to P.C. Matic. The smartest thing I have done in awhile.

  7. It is difficult to protest too much about stuff being bundled with software you are not paying for (as long as it is not malware) However of far greater concern is that these items are bundled with the paid versions of software as well (someone else mentioned the example of Adobe!). There is however a very useful free software called Unchecky which automatically unticks 90% of these crapwae boxes for you or will at least give you a warning about a possible PUP. I have used it for over a year with no problems

  8. I’ve been using Avira for years but recently got rid of it — or tried to — when the updates were doing weird things that I didn’t understand. Even Revo Uninstaller couldn’t get rid of all of it. I agree with all the arguments against “free,” but don’t think “free” should equal sneaky.

  9. If your experience level is such that you are having difficulty removing some of this stuff … the quick and fast way (most all the time) is to just do a "recovery" just prior to the date you installed the bad program. Open up Start, then your Control Panel and then Open System Restore and restore it to previous condition before your bad install.

  10. What about the reverse process? Software that forces you to uncheck a box to prevent being landed with some crapware?

    Look no further than Adobe and its constant attempts to foist some McAfee junk on me.

    I can see that websites might want to find ways of making money, but Adobe? Then again this software house has never been famous for its treatment of users.

  11. There is surely another side to this “discussion”.
    Why should we expect well functioning, reliable & innovative products entirely free.
    The AV suppliers are IMHO bound by the tradition of free which, is simply not commercially viable.
    They respond by including PUPS, which according to your reviews here are most often advised to the new user.
    Not too hard to uncheck boxes or use “Unchecky” SW to prevent accidental passage onto your system.

  12. For the last 4-5 years I have had a paid-for copy of AVG. Following my last renewal nearly a year ago you still have all the crap together with two lots of nagware – PC Tuneup and something else which I am determined not to remember.
    The excuse that free software includes all the bits in the article in order to pay for the product. AVG is getting it both ways.
    It would be very useful to know what products don’t include crapware in the paid-for versions.

  13. So, I installed Avira. Now I got Ask as a homepage on I.E. . How do I get rid of it? I have cleared Firefox of it, but in I.E. it will not leave even change the homepage on Internet Options

  14. I’ve seen this a lot. The thing that bothers me the most are the software download sites that make you use their installer. (Just go to the the companies web site and download from there. No telling what that thing installs while your not looking and they their spread crap all over your hard drive so its time consuming to get rid of it. Its all about ad revenue!

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